THE CHANGING RATIO (Gold to Silver Ratio)

Sep 16, 2022 | Economic Collapse, Financial Literacy, Monetary Education

The cartoon depicts Free Silverites Ben Tillman, William Jennings Bryan, and John P. Altgeld heading for destruction.

The cartoon depicts Free Silverites Ben Tillman, William Jennings Bryan, and John P. Altgeld heading for destruction.

The silver advocates declare that the present financial stringency, and in fact, all the ills from which the people now suffer, are caused by the so-called demonetization of silver in l873. If our condition is not as good now as it was in 1873, and of course they do not take in consideration the twenty years of prosperity that has been enjoyed since that time. If our condition is worse now than it was 23 years ago they say it is because silver was demonetized in 1873, and as a remedy to these ills they demand the remonetization of silver, that is, that we shall throw open our mints to the free and unlimited coinage of the world’s silver at a ratio of 16 to 1.

Without discussing the truth or falsity of these statements here, we will refer to the remonetization of silver at a ratio of 16 to 1. Remonetization might be accomplished without loss or serious derangement, if the same conditions existed now that existed in 1873, but the value, the production and other conditions that governed the ratio of 16 to 1 have now changed.

In 1873, and for 100 years prior to that time, the natural ratio, that is, the annual output of the world’s mines, showed an average ratio of the production of gold to silver at about 16 to 1. The commercial or market value of the two minerals through all these years maintained an average ratio something very
near to the natural ratio of 16 to 1.

During the past twenty years the greatly increased production of silver has been constantly changing the natural ratio between silver and gold, until now the ratio is about 30 to 1.

The commercial ratio of the two metals seem to have been governed largely by their relative productions, and at the present time also shows a ratio of about 30 to 1. Now the free silverites disregard these new conditions, and the conditions that have always governed the ratio between silver and gold and propose to legislate a value to silver, and make it worth just as much as it was worth in 1873. To do this they propose to make 16 ounces of silver equal in value to 1 ounce of gold, when in the market of the world if requires 30 ounce of silver to be equal in value to 1 ounce of gold.

The fact remains to the thoughtful voter that something cannot be made from nothing, that values cannot be legislated, but are fixed by supply and demand in the markets of the world, and no matter what law is passed declaring that 53 cents worth of silver must be north as much as a gold dollar, the silver dollar will continue to circulate under the proposed conditions only at its bullion value.

Article first appeared in the Pullman Herald on August 15, 1896 (Here)

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